THE Northern Alliance premier division table has assumed a far healthier hue when viewed by anyone of a claret and blue disposition following Percy Main’s second successive home win over a spirited Murton outfit by the tight margin of 2-1
A fortnight previous, a glorious comeback victory against Blyth Town had been sealed by three spectacular strikes in a breathless final ten minutes.
There were no such flashes of inspiration on Saturday, just a welcome harnessing of perspiration, dedication and application that saw the home side over the line against opposition who plugged away for the whole 90 minutes.
In a season where constant changes of personnel have been a regular feature of the Villagers’ campaign, manager Gareth Allen again shuffled his pack, with Ben Gardner coming in for his debut and the returning Lindsay Collinson, who served the Main with distinction between 2008 and 2010, handed a place on the bench.
Home aspirations were high at kick-off following the aforementioned success over Blyth, but it was the outfit from east Durham who showed first, with Martin Peace weaving through before unleashing a fierce drive that Rob Rodgerson did well to turn away when a goal seemed an inevitability.
Murton’s highly rated keeper Adrian Vout also distinguished himself in the opening exchanges, competently pouching an 18-yard snapshot by the lively Drogs Suabi.
The early section of the game saw a good deal of ebb and flow in terms of the pattern of play, with Murton demonstrating themselves to be a competent, tenacious outfit, which left many in the crowd wondering exactly how they could be at the foot of the table.
Perhaps luck has had more than its fair share of blame, as an appreciable slice of it was involved in Main’s opener on 16 minutes.
Tony Abladey advanced through the inside left channel, hitting the by-line in the Murton box, then pulled the ball back for the on-rushing Ryan Laws, who only succeeded in thrashing at fresh air as he swung and missed the ball completely.
The Murton defence, perhaps wrongfooted, were then undone by a couple of unfortunate ricochets that returned the ball to Abladey.
This time he picked out the unmarked Kyle Houshby, who gave Percy Main the lead with an accurate low shot across keeper Vout that nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
On the balance of early play, this was a tad harsh on the visitors and they attempted to get back in to the game.
After a period of sustained if unthreatening pressure, Paul Wintrip had them level on the half hour.
A long throw rom near the corner flag evaded everyone apart from the unmarked Wintrip at the back post, who touched home the loose ball under the diving Rodgerson.
Percy Main did not allow themselves to be deflected from their game plan and regained the lead, with what was to be the decisive goal of the afternoon, from debutant Ben Gardner on 36 minutes.
Accepting an astute pass from Kevin Westphal, Gardner just beat Drogs to the loose ball before hammering it low past Vout from the edge of the area.
It was almost 3-1 moments later when a sublime lob from Drogs struck the bar and bounced to safety.
In the second period, Murton were with the advantage of the breeze, which appeared to lessen as the half drew on.
Early on it assisted a thunderbolt of a free kick from Paul Griffith that required a smart tip over by Rodgerson.
From the resulting corner by Andrew Besford, a Sean English drive was hacked away from near the line by Aaron Kah and the Main preserved their lead.
Indeed, apart from a mazy run and wayward shot from Besford just past the hour, this marked the last real threat from Murton, as the Main bolstered their back line with the introduction of the talismanic Tony Browell in central defence.
Near the end it could have been 3-1 as Abladey escaped the Murton defence, but instead of shooting he passed to Kyle Houshby, who had mistimed his run by a fraction and strayed offside.
In the end it did not matter, as the Main held out to record another much needed victory.
Percy Main are at home on Saturday to Gateshead Rutherford, who were defeated 9-0 the last time the two sides met in May 2011.
Kick-off at Purvis Park is 2pm and all are welcome.